It was that other evening in Ziguinchor, Casamance, Senegal. I was in that random hotel’s neat garden, sitting and sipping that Gazelle Senegalese beer I had just ordered. The moment was of a highly exhilarating character, and an interesting company was the only thing I could possibly wish for so to have it elevated to something closer to ideality.
It was that exact moment I heard that wonky door of the room besides my position opening abruptly, whereupon I saw a tall, old white fellow dressed up in an Arabic robe coming out of it. His green eyes met mine in the very instance. And I discerned in them a bold defiance against some inner agony gnawing his soul. Equally bold as his gaze was his gait as he set stalking solidly and unhesitatingly towards my part. He sat…
“I need to fuck off from here! It’s too hot and the whole place is full of fucking rubbish. But I’m out of cash. I have some dollars but the banks will not open until Monday and I can find nowhere to change them. Do you maybe have a clue where I could change them today?”, he explained in excellently articulated English with a strong Slavic accent.
I suggested him to go out and ask in random – hotels, stores, whoever in the streets – offering a tempting exchange rate. He did so…
He was back after about half an hour. He had not managed to change his dollars and uttered a profuse load of curses commenting on the issue. “Have a beer”, I suggested. He followed my suggestion promptly, striding straight to the bar and returning with two Gazelles a few moments later. We spent the rest of the evening there, me endeavoring to extract his peculiar life-story and he narrating it eagerly. And here comes a summation of it:
He was born in 1948 in the outskirts of Warsaw and grew up during the acme of Communist Poland. Since those days of his youth, his whole existence got centered in what was to dominate all the rest of his life thereon: women – or, more specifically, the treasure between their legs, according to his own wording…
“Girls, girls, girls… I had scores of them back then. Four at the same time before I left. I had to meet them all every day. I got tired of it. So I think: I will go to the west and see what’s happening over there.”
He managed to get a passport from the Communist administration and left to London, where he sought asylum. He never returned to his homeland till the Communism fell. After staying in London for a year, he embarked onto a ship to reach Australia after a few weeks. There he spent some years working in constructions and mines, till a friend suggested him: “why don’t you go to the psychiatrist and get a leave?”
He visually demonstrated to me how the conversation with the loony-doc went by, which was not a conversation really, but rather him pronouncing an array of picked-out-in-random words mixed with other freaky noises, and the man on the other side of the desk signing for him a six-month leave.
“I had just found the secret”, he exclaimed enthusiastically. He claimed that he never again worked in his life ever since, but he lived some three and a half decades on the Australian welfare, till he more recently got a fat Australian pension.
Saying he didn’t work, however, only stood to mean a lawful, taxed job. He did get involved in a variety of different occupations. One of the most profitable was smuggling gold from Hong Kong into India. He completed quite a few trips successfully until he got finally busted at the New Delhi airport. The custom-clerks found 1.5 kg of gold hidden inside his hollow camera, which cost him a six-month imprisonment sentence.
He did not find life conditions in the Indian slammer particularly harsh. He described the Indian prisoners’ majority as peaceful dudes, and apart from them there was also a large number of European and other international prisoners, being there mostly for smuggling as well: gold, heroin, electronics and pretty much anything that was to be smuggled. An exception to this was the notorious mass-murderer Charles Sobhraj (who killed at least a dozen Western tourists in Asia during the 1970s) and was staying in the cell next door. The fact that he had to share a nasty cell with another 70-80 men and manifold as many rats and cockroaches, he did not find pleasant, though tolerable.
When he was released after the completion of his sentence, he found himself in the dreary situation of being an incognito in India. His passport was confiscated and never returned. And on top of that – for a reason I did not exactly get – the Australian embassy in India could not issue him a new passport and exhorted him to cross the border to Nepal clandestinely to have a passport from the embassy over there. And so he claimed he did together with an East-German bloke who had befound himself in the same situation. They traveled with rickshaws and buses to the border, made it across through the fields in the night, and ultimately ended up with a new passport in Kathmandu.
Getting back to Australia after this adventure… that was when he received the hardest blow of his life. He found a boyfriend having moved into his house together with his wife.
Her cheating on him wasn’t the novel thing. According to his sayings, it had been happening regularly ever since they got married. One time, said he, he busted a lover having entered his house only 10 seconds after he had left when he turned back for the car keys he forgot. The novel thing, now, was that he was definitely thrown out of his house and separated from his two daughters. He could do nothing about it. The law was constituting an insurmountable barrier between him and his family.
He concluded with a lengthy and fiery speech blaming Australia’s legal system for his predicament and praising some alleged, long-passed days when he could have slaughtered his wife’s and daughters’ lovers without needing to face any consequences. Even though many years had passed since, the bitterness of the incident was obviously still nestling deep inside his thoughts.
As we kept discussing it, he didn’t seem to grasp my idea: that to marry a hardly adult, fifteen years younger than him, random Filipino girl who he met in the streets of Manila and could not speak a single word in English just because she was “very pretty”, wasn’t quite the right thing to do in the first place. He though understood quite well by himself, and admitted, that the family issues they experienced were primarily caused by his faulty behavior. As, during his married life, he was spending at least ten months of the year traveling around the world, living in brothels in Indonesia and stuff… without ever bothering to give some sign of existence.
He said he haven’t slept with a woman for the last four years because he came to despise them after the many bad experiences he’d had with them, but I may rather suspect other reasons, of biological nature. From what I understood, however, his emotional needs were as high as ever.
He admitted to still be in search of a wife and soulmate. But he gave me a deriding look when I asked him whether he’s contemplating on a Polish woman near his age, for example…
“Are you fucking serious!? Near my age!? I am seventy years old! Seventy years old women are ugly… Look at me! I am old! I am ugly too… But at least I can refrain from looking myself in the mirror… her, no!”
He plunged into his thoughts for a while…
“But you know what… I’m thinking of another thing also: I can buy a caravan in Poland and live there the rest of my life alone… No, I will get two dogs also. Yes, that’s what I will do… That’s what I must do.”